Exams are never fun. The atmosphere in the room, the pressure put on you by your school and yourself, the fear of failing or doing badly… They can all add up to create an extremely stressful time, for anyone. But something that makes it even worse is when you struggle with anxiety, like I do, among many other people.
Having anxiety during exams means that everything I just mentioned is heightened, especially the fear of failing. Over the past few days, I’ve begun to have exams at school, and my anxiety has constantly caused me to worry that I am going to fail all of the exams, even though I know that I’m a good student, who works hard and tries their best. So, how do I deal with this feeling, and what can you do if you deal with it too?
- Breathe. Breathe in and out, slowly, both before and during the exam. I like to inhale, counting for five seconds, hold for five seconds, and then exhale for five seconds. This means that your breathing will become more regular, stopping you from being more likely to hyperventilate. You don’t have to count for five, though, you can count for however long you feel necessary.
- Remember that this is not the end of the world. Yes, your exams are probably important on some level, but doing badly in it will not be the end of everything. In the UK, even if you fail your actual GCSEs, you can re-do them so that you can pass them, so if you try your best, and still fail, you have another shot.
- Remember that you cannot do anything more than your best. You literally cannot do anything more than try your hardest – if you are trying your best in that exam, and doing everything that you can do, and you get a low grade, it’s okay. Your best is all you can do, in any situation.
- Close your exams and distract yourself for a minute. If you’re in the exam and you feel like you’re starting to panic over a question, put your pen down, close your eyes, and just focus on something else for a minute, like your breathing, or fiddle with your hands. This will stop you from over-thinking the question, and help you ground yourself in the moment.
- Look after yourself, mentally and physically. In the lead up to your exams, make sure that you are not neglecting your health in order to get a good grade. Make sure to eat proper meals, and drink fluids, particularly water, and get a good amount of sleep. Take rest breaks during any revision that do, and stop working if you feel yourself getting too stressed.
- Work out what helps you calm down and feel relaxed. Whether it’s a particular song, show, book, food, or even a particular person, work out what calms you down, even when your stress levels are through the roof. Knowing this is good, because you can use that knowledge to help yourself relax if you feel like you are getting too stressed.
- Talk to someone. Talk to someone about how you’re feeling; keeping it bottled up will not help you at all. Someone like your best friend, or even a teacher will want to listen and make sure that they can help you in any way. If you’re feeling panicky in the exam, speak to an invigilator to let them know that you might not to leave the room if you’re feeling unwell.
These things have all helped me in the exams that I am currently undertaking, so I hope that they can help any of you that may also be going through a similar situation, or even just help you at some point in the future. Good luck!